Australian Apprentice of the Year Award

The Australian Apprentice of the Year Award recognises the most outstanding Australian Apprentice in Australia.

State or territory training award winners of this category are automatically finalists for the Australian Training Awards and will compete at the national level.

Melinda Lethbridge always had a fascination with how things work and had a natural skill and passion for hands-on work, but felt obliged to pursue a tertiary pathway. After spending a week doing work experience at Hargo Engineering, she decided that an Australian Apprenticeship in fitting and machining was a good balance between theoretical and practical learning. She enrolled in a Certificate III in Engineering – Mechanical Trade at Swinburne University of Technology and commenced her Australian Apprenticeship at Hargo Engineering the day after completing her school exams. In 2014 she was awarded the Australian Apprentice of the Year Award at the Australian Training Awards.

"I began Year 12 aiming for a scholarship in mechatronics and took up a very academic study load but I realised I needed a balance of practical work as well as theoretical challenges. I remembered my work experience at a manufacturer and how that career suited my needs. With cooperation from my school and my employer, I completed my Year 12 certificate while working part time in the industry, and then commenced my Australian Apprenticeship the day after my final exam," Melinda said.

As a qualified fitter and turner, Melinda won the Gold medal for Turning in WorldSkills Australia’s Melbourne Region competition in 2013 and also competed at the 2014 WorldSkills Australia National Competition.

"Undertaking an Australian Apprenticeship was a really positive experience. The self-paced learning built into the training allowed me to move quickly through content that came easily to me, and take the time to fully understand concepts that I struggled with.

"An Australian Apprenticeship is an awesome opportunity to learn and earn. There are so many benefits to this training pathway. It can often open many doorways that you don’t expect," Melinda said.

Melinda plans to undertake further training in how to teach and train in the workplace. Ultimately, Melinda wants to contribute to the quality of Australian Apprenticeships by partnering more effectively with off-the-job training and continue learning and increasing her skills in cutting edge machining techniques.

In December 2014, Melinda was appointed an Australian Apprenticeships Ambassador for the Australian Government to promote the benefits of the Australian Apprenticeships pathway.